AUSTIN — Brent Webster will step into the top role at the Office of the Attorney General after Ken Paxton’s impeachment forced him to step away from his official duties, according to an internal memo sent to agency staff on Saturday.
“I will continue to lead the agency while Attorney General Paxton deals with the impeachment proceedings,” wrote Webster, who serves directly under Paxton as first assistant attorney general. “The day-to-day operations of the agency will continue smoothly and our executive leadership team is available to address any issues that might arise.”
The Dallas Morning News obtained the document soon after the impeachment vote Saturday afternoon.
The vote was overwhelming; 121 of the 149 House members agreed Paxton should be impeached for bribery, abuse of office and a host of other alleged misdeeds and criminal acts.
The Senate must now hold a trial to determine whether Paxton should be permanently removed from office. It’s unclear how long Webster will be in the role. Gov. Greg Abbott could also appoint an interim attorney general. His spokesperson did not respond to requests about the impeachment or a replacement for Paxton.
A spokesman with Office of the Attorney General confirmed Webster’s new role later Saturday.
Webster worked in private practice before joining the agency. He also spent five years in the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office, according to his LinkedIn profile, including a short stint as first assistant DA.
During his time in the role, the DA’s office lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in asset forfeiture because Webster did not properly serve citations in more than 60 cases, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Webster became first assistant in 2020 when the post and several others were left vacant after eight high-ranking deputies accused Paxton of corruption and left the agency. They accused Paxton of abusing his office to help a campaign donor; the FBI is investigating.
The allegations of four of these former employees, who later filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging retaliation, were the basis of much of the alleged wrongdoing in the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Paxton.
In his memo to staff, Webster applauded revenue the agency has brought in and noted the agency’s many lawsuits filed against the Biden administration.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished during my time working as First Assistant, and all of you should be proud of your divisions and the work you do for this agency,” he wrote. Webster also defended Paxton and said the state “has had no better elected official...defending citizen’s rights, fighting for justice, and preserving freedom.”
The articles also accused the attorney general obstructing justice by delaying a trial on several felony fraud charges that he’s faced since the summer after his election to statewide office in 2015.